Vijay Shah (editor)
Sunny Atwal (idea contributor)
While visiting family, I got a chance to witness a spectacle that has enthralled gamers all over the world this past week. This moment is the end result of years of development that has led to something that has broken several records and is well on place to be the gaming phenomenon not just of 2013, but probably for the next few years too. Lo and behold, it’s the sensation known as Grand Theft Auto V (Five), known popularly by its acronym GTA V. If a modern PlayStation shoot-’em-up collided with a gangster action movie from the ghettos of southern California, this would be the explosion that will set the gaming world alight.
The latest in the Grand Theft Auto series published by Dundee-based games maestro Rockstar, GTA V, which has been made available on the PS3 (Playstation 3) platform, sees a return to the mythical American state of San Andreas and its capital of sin, Los Santos, first encountered in the hip-hop-and-hillbilly-flavoured previous title Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, with new characters and scenarios, and a whole new bunch of missions.
Though I have not had a chance to play GTA V myself, unlike hours spent improving my dodgy driving skills & shootouts on earlier reincarnations of GTA (most notably San Andreas and the groundbreaking Vice City), I was able to get a flavour for Rockstar’s new baby courtesy of my brother, a seriously hardcore gamer. The game starts off with a bank heist, a safe blown open with explosive charges, a bullet through a security guard’s head and plenty of cussing. It’s not one for the faint-hearted. I was taken aback by the quality of the graphics. Cinematic, like a Hollywood film with an honest budget, replete with filmy camera angles. The plot seemed very thick, dramatic and intense and you get this feeling that this is a really grown-up version of GTA: San Andreas.
Grand Theft Auto V has been a game five years in the making. The franchise itself has been going strong for more than fifteen years, with 135 million copies sold worldwide. Rockstar’s latest epic has already cost £170 million in production and marketing alone, more than a lot of Hollywood blockbusters. Three million pre-orders were placed on the retail website Amazon weeks in advance of GTA V’s première on the 17th September 2013. Twenty-five million copies are expected to be sold within the first year after GTA V’s release, netting a potential profit of GBP £1 billion in Rockstar Games’ substantially swollen bank account.
The game has generated a frenzy among gamers young and old. Here in the UK, stores such as Asda held midnight game launches and many shops in central London saw people camping outside the premises for up to a week in advance. One dedicated, or perhaps slightly loony, guy was even offered £200 by someone desperate to get a prime spot in the queue. The customer, who has even set up a tent right there on the pavement, refused the offer, hoping for better. Branches of Game, a video games vendor on the high street, reported ‘chaos’ as hundreds of people deluged their stores hoping to stake a claim on a plastic case containing a specimen of this hotly anticipated game. Even street criminals got in on the hype. A 23-year-old man in Colindale, north London, was struck with a brick and stabbed by youths after returning from a midnight store opening at a nearby Asda supermarket. Thankfully he survived.
Gamers with legitimate means and intentions are more than pleased with GTA V. Fans have been drawn to the game not only for its “thrills, spills, skills”, and of course, its kills; but also for its involving gameplay. GTA V has the superb ability to really situate the player at the heart of their personal movie, where they call the shots – and avoid getting shot. There is intense drama by the bucketload and the in-play graphics have more shine than a pimp’s Audi convertible. A lot of attention has been paid to detail and you could be forgiven for thinking you really were drifting down Vinewood Boulevard on a hot summer’s day. Even the road surface and street art on the walls of surburban Los Santos are accurate to the last stone and colour fade.
Los Santos: a sprawling sun-soaked metropolis full of self-help gurus, starlets and fading celebrities, once the envy of the Western world, now struggling to stay afloat in an era of economic uncertainty and cheap reality TV.
A quote from Rockstar Games’ official GTA V fan site….
GTA V sees the player taking on multiple character roles as one of three criminals trying to make it big in the San Andreas underworld. There is Franklin, a hustler who is looking out for some decent opportunities and a stack of cash. Then there’s Michael, the professional ex-convict experiencing a less than rosy retirement. Packing the heat with them is the twisted trigger-happy maniac Trevor, who lives every day looking for the next narcotics hit. In an uncertain world fraught with danger and antagonised law enforcement, the trio go on a series of elaborate schemes and daringly dangerous heists that will make or break them.
GTA V is available worldwide on Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. In the UK, you can pick up a copy at all major games outlets as well as Asda, Sainsbury’s and Curry’s/PC World outlets among others.
THE TRAILER and OFFICIAL GAMEPLAY VIDEO (Rockstar Games’ YouTube channel :-
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